Google’s messaging app for Android has received a major upgrade. Hangouts 4.0 has a new user interface based on Material Design, improvements to the contact list and compose message experience, and other improvements.
Google says Hangouts 4.0 is also faster and uses less power than its predecessor, which helps give you better battery life.
Hangouts is a sort of multi-purpose messaging utility. You can use it for instant messaging, SMS, or voice or video chats. You can even use Hangouts Dialer to make voice-over-IP calls to phone numbers, and Google says now when you do that, there’s support for Outbound caller ID so that the person who receives your call won’t see “unknown”.
Other improvements include support for group MMS messages using Google Voice and support for composing messages through an Android Wear smartwatch by saying “OK Google, send a Hangouts message.”
There’s a new Gmail-style compose button that floats at the bottom of the contact screen, making it easier to quickly start a new message. Google has also brought back support for custom status messages.
Google Hangouts 4.0 should be available from the Play Store soon.